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Full text of "Diocesan convention address"

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Convention Address 



BY 



Rt. Rev. Thomas C. Darst, D. D, 



Bishop of East Carolina 




Read at 
GREENVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA 

January 28, 1931 



Diocesan Convention Address 

— BY — 

Rt. Rev. Thomas C. Dar£, D. D. 

Read at 
GREENVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA 

January 28, 1931. 



Brethren of the Clergy and Laity of the Diocese 

of East Carolina : 

"Grace be unto you, and peace from God, our 
Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ." 

We are meeting today in a time of unrest, con- 
fusion and fear, and I pray that God, the Holy 
Ghost, may guide us in our deliberations and in- 
spire us with His wisdom that we may be enabled 
to carry back to our people a message so compell- 
ing in its courage, and so unfaltering in its faith, 
that the whole Diocese may respond with renewed 
consecration to the call of Christ and His Church. 

As we look back over the past year, we find 
many reasons for real encouragement. The Con- 
firmations have been larger than for many years ; 
the Clergy generally have never served more 
faithfully ; and the Laity, in many instances, have 
displayed real sacrificial devotion in their loyalty 
IV} to the Church and its Program, 

js» Our people generally have suffered materially; 
^! many of them have felt the pinch of genuine 

3 



poverty, and have had to make real sacrifices, 
involving the disruption of cherished plans for 
themselves and for their children. 

And yet, in spite of this wide-spread condition, 
yes, perhaps because of this condition, I have seen 
a deepening of the spiritual life of this people such 
as I have not seen before during the sixteen years 
in which I have been permitted to serve you. 

We have seen the crashing of financial institu- 
tions in which we trusted. We have heard the 
tramp of thousands of our unemployed brothers 
seeking a chance to live. We have seen the toil 
of the farmer come to naught, and we have sensed 
the deep silence of our closed factories and mills. 
We have had to face stark realities, and some of 
us, I believe, have made a fresh discovery of God. 

It has been a time to try men's souls, and I be- 
lieve we have needed such a time, a testing time, 
when men, shaken from false security and transi- 
ent content, fall back upon God and find peace. 

The easy days, so sadly abused, so wantony 
squandered, are gone, and the very salvation of 
America may depend upon the length of time 
they remain away. 

The hard days are here — the days of planning 
and thinking and giving up, the days of readjust- 
ment of living and restoration of values and dis- 
covery of self. These days are here — may we 
have the courage to thank God for them ; may we 
have the wisdom to use them, not as valleys of 
depressions through which we toil in bitterness 
and defeat, but as God's own highways, over 



which we march in confidence and faith to that 
larger life of service, that wider field of usefulness 
that we could have never known if we had not 
learned the lesson of the hard high road. 

At such a time as this, we should pause and take 
stock of our resources. We should ask ourselves : 
Have I been living in a fool's paradise? Have I 
been depending upon temporary, transient resour- 
ces? Have I anything left upon which to build 
my life? 

Such an examination, honestly made, should 
lead us to a realization of the truth that we have 
lost nothing that is permanent, nothing that 
makes for character, nothing that could possibly 
endure for one moment after the breath leaves 
our body ; and that we still have the possibility of 
possessing all things that make for the splendor 
of our manhood and the winning of our souls. 

We still have God. We have our Master, Christ. 
We have membership in His body, the Church. 
We have our task, and we have the certainty of 
victory, through Faith. 

In a recent issue of a financial pamphlet, I read 
these words: "These times test men's courage, 
and they test faith more than courage. 

There is such a thing as being fool-hardy and 
calling it courage; but experience shows that our 
peril is the lack of faith. 

It would seem as though some social leaders 
have no faith in America, and some Church lead- 
ers have no faith in God. A defeatist attitude 
denominates most enterprises for the well-being 
of society and the advancement of the Kingdom 



5 



of God. We are in retreat. The challenge of the 
sacrificial has been lost in coping with emergen- 
cies. 

Reductions, Curtailments, Cuts, Discarded Pro- 
grams, Abandoned Fields, Surrender, Retreat. 
These are the prevailing attitudes. Faith has 
crumpled. Men charged with great programs are 
panic stricken. They have lost their nerve. 

Courage, Love, Spiritual Passion, Sacrifice, Re- 
ligious Fervor, Service, Generosity. The sense of 
immediacy, the sense o f Opportunity, Faith. 
These are the qualifications for a time like this." 

God send us faith. God send us courage to 
thank Him for permitting us to live and labor in 
such a time as this. 

At such a time as this, we take notice of our 
foundations, we dwell on the glory of our heri- 
tage; our minds swing back to the beginnings of 
this mighty organism, of which we are living 
members, the Church of the Living God. 

We see a little band of men and women gather- 
ed in an upper room in Jerusalem. We wait with 
them as they wait for the Promised Power. We 
see them going out from that little corner of the 
world in response to the marching orders of their 
Master. We see them go without material equip- 
ment, without influence or earthly power. We 
see them in complete and glad surrender to the 
will of God, in absolute loyalty to Christ, in utter 
self-forgetfulness, going forth against kingdoms 
of selfishness and lust and greed and sin, and we 
see them winning those kingdoms and transform- 



ing them into the kingdoms of our Lord and of 
His Christ. 

We speak of our sufferings, our little self de- 
nials, our inability to maintain our luxuries. God 
pity us for our pettiness. They thanked God that 
they were permitted to suffer for His sake, and 
even in awful flame of martydom they lifted their 
radiant faces to the throne of God and cried out 
their triumphant death song "Thy Kingdom come, 
Thy will be done on earth." 

At such a time as this, God is leading His 
Church back to the meaning of the Cross, so that 
it may learn again the glory of its mission; so 
that from the lesson of that Cross, it may march 
forward with fresh faith and passionate devotion 
to join forces with that lonely leader, Christ, who 
has been waiting so long for us to come. 

At such a time as this we must take stock of 
our environment and make a survey of the con- 
ditions of our day. It does not require the skill 
of a keen student of human affairs to realize that 
conditions in our world are far from normal. Un- 
rest and rebellion characterize a large section of 
the world ; hate and fear permeate human society. 
China has her revolutions. Russia and her radi- 
cal experiments are no longer distant disturbing 
movements to which we give casual, curious at- 
tention from time to time. Industrial revolution 
lifts its head in our own State and Nation, and 
radical influence find their way more and more in- 
to the very life of our working people. In a recent 
article written by my friend, Joseph Fort Newton, 
he said: 

"As the Russian repudiation of religion may 



help to renew our faith, so the up-rooting of hu- 
manity in economic and social affairs may force 
us to put our own house in order. It is not simply 
a polemic, but a portent, and if it looks at first 
like the idealism of hell, to ignore it is folly. 

It does turn the saarch light on features of our 
own economic system which are ghastly in their 
injustice and brutal in their exploitation of man 
by man. It shows, as in a horrible apocalypse, 
that our selfish, individualistic commercialism, so 
ready to use men to make money for private gain 
and luxurious display, instead of using money to 
make men, is nothing but organized atheism. It 
is not only unchristian, it is inhuman. 

Surely, we now know that no society has any 
secure future but that in which the people, all 
together, learn to cooperate as part of a common 
life for the common good. Our hope lies in a 
practical fraternal righteousness, in which the 
skill of science is employed to serve the masses of 
mankind. In short, our religion must first do 
justly, then love mercy, if it is to lead men to 
walk humbly with God." 

We must realize that our house is not in order. 
With far more than half of the people in this great 
nation outside of any form of organized religion, 
with half of the people of this State owing no 
allegiance to any branch of God's Church. With 
an increasing disregard of law on the part of re- 
spectable citizens, with the appalling increase of 
crime among youth, with the breaking down of 
the standard of decency in human relations, we 
must know that our house is not in order, and 



8 



that the Kingdom of God on earth is still an elu- 
sive hope. 

In our own Diocese, we see the need for a more 
compelling faith and finer measure of sacrificial 
devotion on the part of our people. We have held 
our own. We have pushed forward the bound- 
aries of the Kingdom a little bit here and there, 
but we must admit, in shame and humility, that 
we have failed to win any great objectives for 
Christ and His Church. From the ignorant and 
the sinning, from the forgotten and the neglected, 
from the tenant farmer and the pale children of 
the mill village, the call is coming for our leader- 
ship, our loving sympathy, our Christ-like devo- 
tion to those for whom He died. 

"He loved me, and He gave Himself for me" 
cried St. Paul out of the fulness of his grateful 
heart, as, in absolute surrender, he gave himself 
to the mighty work to which he had been devinely 
called. The same blessed assurance should send 
us out to-day, determined, at whatever cost, to 
play our full joyful part in carrying that blessed 
message to the heart of a weary, waiting world. 

In the days of our prosperity, we gave, without 
joy and without sacrifice, to the support of the 
Church and the spread of the Kingdom of Christ, 
and because so many of us gave without this sense 
of privilege, the act was not sacramental, and, 
therefore, easily abandoned when prosperity ceas- 
ed. Because our meat was not to do the will of 
God, we were hungry, even in our prosperity and 
miserable in our poverty. 

Admitting our failures, we will not admit de- 
feat ; conscious of our poverty of soul, we will not 



9 



refuse to be fed; unworthy of our Sonship, we 
will not give up our heritage. We will, please 
God, go on from this place with courage and with 
faith to accomplish the work committed to our 
hands. We will clear from our souls those barri- 
ers that have blocked the way of Jesus. We will 
offer and present ourselves to His service. Out 
of our plenty, we have given with indifference; 
out of our poverty, we will offer with joy. We 
will face the problems of our day with under- 
standing hearts, and give to a perplexed and dis- 
tressed people that leadership which will enable 
them to find God, and in finding Him. t 

Surely we can say with a measure of confidence 
and joy that we have cr-me to the Kingdom for 
such a time as this, a time of danger and opportu- 
nity and high privilege, a time for the testing of 
souls. It is no time for superficialities, no time 
for surface contacts, but it is a time when Clergy 
and Laity alike must so deepen their faith and 
renew their courage that they may be enabled 
to show men and women that the only way out 
is the way of the Cross. It is not the easy way, 
but it is the only way ; it is not the way the weak- 
ling would choose, but it is the way to victory. 

"Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the 
world, and this is the victory that overcometh the 
world, even our faith." 

God give us faith to overcome our fears, our 
prejudices, and our sins. God give us faith to 
see and understand His plans. God give us faith 
to know and appreciate the power that belongs to 
His sons. God give us a vision of the world's 
need and a passion for the souls of men, for 



10 



'The great world's heart is aching, aching fiercely 

in the night, 
And God alone can heal it, and God alone give 

light; 
And the men to bear that message, and to speak 

the living word, 
Are you and I, my brothers, and the millions that 

have heard. 

Can we close our eyes to duty? Can we fold our 
hands at ease, 

While the gates of night stand open to the path- 
ways of the seas? 

Can we shut up our compassions ? Can we leave 
our prayer unsaid, 

Till the lands which Hell has blasted have quick- 
ened from the dead? 

We grovel among trifles and our spirits fret and 
toss, 

While above us burns the vision of the Christ up- 
on the Cross; 

And the blood of God is streaming from His brok- 
en hands and side, 

And the lips of God are saying "Tell my brothers 
I have died." 

O Voice of God, we hear Thee above the shocks 

of time, 
Thine echoes roll around us, and the message is 

sublime ; 
No power of man shall thwart us, no stronghold 

shall dismay, 
When God commands obedience and love has led 

the way." 



11 



UNIVERSITY OF N.C. AT CHAPEL HILL 



00032740142 

FOR USE ONLY IN 



THE NORTH CAROLINA COLLECTION 



Form No. A-368, Rev. 8/95